And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” (Psalm 2:1–6)
This is the case here. David wants us to take note of what was indeed a real and noticeable case, namely that the nations around him, (and us, of course) are “raging” with what David considers no real or legitimate cause. “Nations” is the familiar word “goyim” that speaks of the Gentiles or of the peoples around Israel and not of their people group. Specifically, it was used to speak of anyone that was NOT a descendant of Abraham. It was used to refer both a factual way and a basically insulting way. In the OT is could speak of a “swarm” of people, basically pointing to them as if they were a swarm of animals or locusts. As we have noted before, in Psalms or in Proverbs, this noun is both plural and, what is called an “Absolute”. The Absolute in the normal form of the Hebrew noun that it takes when it is not tied to another word form. This particular noun is speaking very generally and not of any specific people group. David has all of the non-Hebrew people groups in mind, not any particular peoples in mind. BTW, it is this idea, that any people not a descendant of Abraham.
The name “Israel” is a Biblical given name. The patriarch Jacob was given the name Israel (Hebrew: יִשְׂרָאֵל, Standard Yisraʾel, Tiberian Yiśrāʾēl; "Triumphant with God", "who prevails with God" after He (God) wrestled with a "man" (Genesis 32:28 and 35:10). Thus we conclude that the name “Israel” is to be considered a special name to refer to this special people. We know also that Jacob/Israel had 12 sons that came to be known as the progenitors of the twelve tribe so Israel and the fathers of the eventual entire nation. The matter of Jacob wrestling with God leads us to consider this as the reason why there came to be a distinction between they and the other peoples round about them.
We should note that this is not a matter of simple prejudice. It is not just a matter of this natural (though not acceptable) human tendency to think themselves as better than the particular others that are in view. It surely takes real work to think of those around us in the fashion in which God thinks of them. They are to the objects of our love (godly love of course - as God love all men) and of our mercy (as Jesus in the Beatitudes counselled us to have mercy). They MUST not be the object of our hatred or our despite, as if we are somehow better than they.
David, in this Psalm, was recognizing the emotional and mental condition of those people groups around Israel. They were in a state of “rage” referring to being restless or ever moving; and not just in an uneasy fashion. This is peaking of being in a tumult or state of confusion. It can speak of being in such a tumult or emotional state that one is conspiring or plotting some negative action against the object of their rage. It is in the “Qatal” voice which speaks of the action of the verb as having originated before the current time, but yet with an effect that is still seen now. The current raging of the nations around him is because of the way that they have viewed and dwelt on their place in the world and in regards to God’s land and people.
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